Return to EXISTENCE: Life After Death

Return to EXISTENCE: Life After Death
Someone has invented the technology that allows people – people like and you – to transfer their consciousness into the body of someone else. Sounds great, right? Well, not if you're the guy who invented it and the criminal underworld is out to take it for themselves.

In the summer miniseries Existence 2.0, physicist Sylvester Baladine is on the run with a technology that could be deadly into the wrong hands – and he's using that same technology to stay one step ahead of the bad guys. Jumping from one body to the next, at the end of the series he met his fate.. but there was a twist.

Just five short months ago, we talked with the creators of Existence 2.0 about their then-debuting miniseries, and fast-forward to now and we're talking with them again by the sequel.. aptly named, Existence 3.0. Writer Nick Spencer and artist Ron Salas are back for round two thanks to Image comics, and with the release of the first issue of Existence 3.0 out this week, we talked with the writer for more on this dynamic book.

Newsarama: Congratulations on the success of Existence 2.0, Nick. What led to doing a sequel – and doing it so quickly after the first series’ conclusion?

Nick Spencer: A lot of it came from the response to the first issue of Existence 2.0. Being a first-time creative team and all that, none of us were really sure what to expect when the book came out. So when it got such an enthusiastic response-- with the sellout and the nice reviews and all-- the folks at Image Shadowline asked if we were interested in doing more, which of course we were.  Initially, we talked about turning it into an ongoing, but given how the first arc ended, we felt like it would be more appropriate to launch the next arc as it's own series. Hence, 3.0.

Nrama: Existence 2.0 had a lot of twists and turns – especially at the final panel of the final page. Can we spoil it for those reading as Existence 3.0 is coming down the pike?

Spencer: Yeah, absolutely-- as long as everyone has their spoiler hats on, we killed our lead! Sly sacrificed himself in order to save his daughter, by moving her consciousness into the body he'd been occupying-- a body first belonging to Marina, a professional killer.

Nrama: What can we expect in Existence 3.0?

Spencer: Well, Sly's death sets up a new status quo. While he may have saved Jenny's life, he's also made her a target. Before he performed that final transfer, Sly set up a virus that destroyed all of his work. So now Jenny is the only living prototype of the consciousness transfer technology-- all it's secrets are buried inside her brain. And of course, there are a lot of very powerful, very dangerous people trying to get their hands on those secrets.

So we pick up five years later, with Jenny at thirteen and living in the body of a twentysomething trained assassin. She and her mother are on the run from a powerful corporation that wants the transfer tech and are willing do anything to get it. Marko is trying to protect them, out of a sense of duty to Sly, the man who gave him his life back in Existence 2.0.

Thing is, Jenny wants nothing to do with Marko. She resents him and sees him as responsible for everything that's gone wrong in her life, including her father's death. So we have a sort of unique family drama playing out against a backdrop of high concept science fiction and mindless violence. Should make for an interesting combination.

Nrama: Who is out to get Jenny and the secrets she holds?

Spencer: Well, like I said, 3.0 is all about upping the ante. In 2.0, the technology was brand new, and no one really had time to stop to think about the full implications of it. Obviously, a breakthrough of this magnitude has the potential to change everything, and whoever has it stands to profit enormously. So, for starters, you have this mega-corporation, The Kindred Group, that's learned about Sly's innovation and will do anything to get it-- for reasons both professional and personal.  

Nrama: It's an interesting concept -- a 13 year old stuck in a 20-something year old assassin's body. (BIG anyone?) Will you be touching on that any in this book?

Spencer: You mean besides the massive fight scene that takes place on a Walking Piano? But seriously, yeah, there's definitely a lot of focus on Jenny, and how she deals with this new life. I mean, look at this girl's predicament: she's living in the body of a twenty-something assassin. She's lost her father. She actually died herself. She's in a constant stage of danger due to these people that are hunting her. It's a hard place to be in, especially at that age. And how she chooses to deal with this is a big part of what drives our story forward.

Nrama: Sylvester’s sacrifice for his daughter shows a lot… are you a father yourself, or just a really astute son?

Spencer: Me? Kids? Terrifying. I mean, have you read my stuff? Clearly I am not a man fit for pet-sitting, let alone parenting.

But it's been really nice to hear how the ending resonates with people. Existence 2.0, when you got past all the high concept stuff and the big action sequences, was really about a very selfish man realizing his own mortality and putting someone else ahead of himself for once. I think Sly is just like a lot of fathers-- you see these guys who might be assholes or misogynists or crooks or whatever, but then you see them as parents and it's like you're looking at a whole different person. Jenny represented the last shred of Sly's humanity, and he finds his redemption in saving her.

Nrama: With Jenny now inheriting her father's burden, what's going through her head in this new miniseries? 

Spencer: She's a young girl who's lost her father, and she feels under attack every day of her life-- partly because she is. She's thirteen now and she's tired of being scared-- she wants to start hitting back. She's distrusting of this Marko guy who's been telling her and her mother what to do. She's definitely Sly's daughter-- she has a mean streak, and residing in the body of a sadistic killer like Marina probably doesn't help in that regard. So yeah, there's a lot going on in her head-- teenagers, right?

Nrama: Comparing the first miniseries to the second, I noticed Ron’s art is really evolving. What are you feeding him?

Spencer: Ron's incredible, and yeah, he really upped his game for 3.0. I think for both of us, we didn't want to do a sequel unless we felt like we could top what we did in the first series-- and Ron is certainly doing just that so far. The opening sequence of 3.0 #1 is something I'm especially proud of-- Ron just choreographed that whole scene perfectly. The guy is just a tremendous storyteller who makes my job a hell of a lot easier.

Nrama: Since Existence 2.0 has been successful and you're putting out a sequel, are you working on any other projects?

Spencer: Yeah! Thankfully, the positive reception Existence 2.0 got has made it possible for me to get some other stories out there. A week after 3.0 drops, I have a new book Forgetless coming out, with some spectacular art by Scott Forbes, Marley Zarcone, and Jorge Coelho. That one's about this club night in New York City, and a couple of models moonlighting as professional killers sent there to take out this annoying Bushwick hipster kid named Derrick. A sex-addicted koala ends up getting in the way, and all hell breaks loose. Trust me, it's even weirder than it sounds. I think people are gonna have a lot of fun with it, early response has been terrific.

In March, I have a new project with the amazing Adam Geen coming out, called Shuddertown. Not able to say too much about that one yet, but we're all very excited about it.

Beyond that, there's more in the works, but I gotta keep my mouth shut for now. 2010 looks like a big year, though, that's for sure. 

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